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There are risks associated with surgery of any kind, and surgery for a hip fracture is no different. Regardless of whether you have had a simple pinning procedure or a total hip replacement, you and your surgeon need to watch for complications. The more common complications actually result from being immobilized after surgery, not the surgery itself, so the sooner you are up and walking around, the better.
Problems with anesthesia can be reactions to the drugs used, problems related to other medical complications, and problems due to the anesthesia. Some patients simply do not tolerate the process of anesthesia well. If you have concerns about the anesthesia that will be required for your surgery, discuss them with your surgeon and your anesthesiologist.
Prolonged bed rest can increase the risk of developing pneumonia. To keep your lungs working their best you will be encouraged to take deep breaths and cough frequently. Again, mobility is a key factor in avoiding this complication. Getting out of bed, even sitting upright in a chair, allows your lungs to work much better.
If needed, the hospital’s respiratory therapists have several tools to help maintain optimal lung function.
Pressure Ulcers (Bedsores)
Bedsores occur when blood flow to the skin is restricted by pressure. Normally you would shift your weight around while lying in bed, so that the blood flow to any one area is not cut off for any length of time. If something prevents you from shifting and the pressure stays constant in one area, that area of skin may eventually become damaged due to lack of blood flow. In fact, the skin can die, much in the same way that skin which has been burned with heat dies.
Hip fractures cause pain when you move, even in bed and as a result, you stop moving around to shift your weight. The best treatment is to prevent bedsores in the first place and the best way to prevent them is to get out of bed and get moving.
Thrombophlebitis (Blood Clots)
Thrombophlebitis, sometimes called deep venous thrombosis (DVT), occurs when blood clots form in the large veins of the leg. If the blood clots break apart, they can travel to the lungs, where they lodge in the capillaries (smallest blood vessels in the body) and cut off the blood supply to a portion of the lungs. There are many ways to reduce the risk of DVT, but probably the most effective is getting you moving as soon as possible.
This complication is particularly applicable to aging adults who suffer a hip fracture. Unfamiliar surroundings, pain medications, and the stress of the injury can lead to changes in a patient’s behavior. The condition is usually temporary but it can cause problems because patients can become difficult to handle and won’t follow instructions. This mental confusion is sometimes called the sundowner syndrome because it seems to get worse at night.
The best treatment for mental confusion is usually to get patients out of the hospital and back to familiar surroundings, familiar faces, and activity.
These complications can be minimized or avoided altogether if you are able to have outpatient hip replacement surgery performed at Seaside Surgery Center, the only surgery center in Southwest Florida offering same day outpatient total joint replacements.